June 20, 2012

First FAA-Certified Carrier to Fly Special RNP AR Approaches!

We’re the first Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-certified carrier in the United States to utilize the new satellite-based Special (Non-Public) Required Navigation Performance Authorization Required (RNP AR) approaches to Runways 13L and 13R at our home base at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport with our fleet of Airbus A320 aircraft.

These unique Special Performance-Based Navigation (PBN) procedures are designed to utilize a constant vertical descent in conjunction with a precise curved flight path to the runways, resulting in the following efficiencies:

  • Stabilized approach path;
  • Shorter flight times for customers;
  • Reduced noise levels and greenhouse-gas emissions and,
  • Increased fuel savings by as much as 120 pounds, or 18 gallons, per flight.

The RNP AR approach procedure will allow us to utilize a decision altitude while in a slight turn to the runway, the first airline in the United States to harness this special capability. This allows for lower landing weather minimums, increasing runway utilization at JFK. These procedures will be a key component in making JFK operate independent of the other NY-area airports and reduce delays at JFK, LaGuardia (LGA), Newark Liberty International (EWR) and Teterboro (TEB) airports in certain poor weather conditions.

 

We began designing and testing the JFK special instrument procedures in 2004 in partnership with the FAA and MITRE Corporation. Our cadre of more than 2,300 pilots have been trained and certified at our flight simulator training facility in Orlando to fly RNP AR procedures across the National Airspace System.

In addition to these milestones, in 2008 we became the first and remain the only Airbus A320 operator in the country to receive FAA authorization for RNP AR approaches, followed by RNP AR certification for our entire fleet of Embraer E190 aircraft in 2010.  We maintains all of our fleet types certified for RNP AR and plan to extend the unique capability at JFK to our Embraer E190 fleet in the near future.

To further advance our active role in upgrading the nation’s air traffic control system, in 2011 we also announced a partnership with the FAA to provide data and conduct real-time operational evaluations for the organization’s Next-Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) airspace modernization program.  Through FAA-funding, we’ll equip up to 35 of our A320 planes with Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B) Out avionics that will provide air traffic controllers with precise positioning of the aircraft using GPS satellite signals, enabling our aircraft to fly more direct routes off the East Coast.  This capability, when combined with the new FAA En Route Automation Modernization (ERAM) System, will begin field trials next summer. We’re currently awaiting final aircraft certification.

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